January 23, 2019

SEX ON THURSDAY | Mixing Sex and Substance

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On Oct. 23, The Sun’s headline read “Near-Naked Cornell Runner Attacks 2 Women, Threatens to Rape Them After Taking ‘Acid.’”

I remember reading that. I released an exasperated puff and thought to myself, “I cannot believe that this happens at Cornell.” As I pondered it more, however, I realized, obviously this happens at Cornell. In fact, I’m surprised (but grateful), we haven’t seen worse.

We live in a world of athletes dropping acid and stumbling bleary-eyed around parties preying on freshman girls. We live in a world of date nights where not vomiting on the bus and/or going home with your blind date is a miracle. It’s a world of Tinder hookups and making out with Mr. Let’s-Share-A-Fishbowl. Find me a girl who has walked Catherine Street at midnight without being catcalled, and I’ll eat my words.

Even Beyonce be out here saying, “We woke up in the kitchen saying, ‘How the hell did this shit happen?’”

How can I be surprised having once woke up to a ping on my phone with a message from a friend saying, “I just woke up next to a rando lol.” I dialed her number, concerned. She answered my call and playfully told me about her night. She smiled as she talked, light and joking. I didn’t want to tell her that blacking out and finding a nude Mr. Penis in her bed is not “just another night out,” but I also didn’t want to scare her. I cautiously asked if she was comfortable about what happened and she answered, “He was drunk too, so I guess it was nobody’s fault.” There was a long, remorseful pause, where we both considered the implications of what happened.

Is this the new normal?

By definition, a person cannot consent to sexual interaction when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Should I say it louder for the people in the back? However, in this day and age, I’d bet you’d struggle to find a college kid who hasn’t had drunk sex. It’s part of the deeply problematic hook-up and drinking culture that pervades our college campuses.

I too am part of the problem. I met my current bae through a drunken hookup. Luckily for me, I felt “sober enough” to give consent. I never felt uncomfortable or pressured during the experience. Sometimes my man and I attempt to piece together our first night, but we were too toasted to sort the murky details. It was a horny man and woman who found each other, what’s there to do? It was a boozy hook-up that ripened into a tender, romantic relationship. But what if it hadn’t? What if I never heard from the guy again? Would I feel taken advantage of? It’s impossible to say.

Trying to meet potential lovers and have the confidence to get frisky when you are stone-cold sober is like swimming upstream. Alcohol is called liquid courage for a reason. But it’s also liquid vulnerability. The second I have 1.5 glasses of Sangria and a hot-enough guy makes eye contact with me, I’m infatuated and loose. Drunk people should not be having sex, but it seems practically impossible not to, especially at first. When two people are blacked out and have sex, who’s to blame? Is either party culpable? I don’t know the answer. Is there one?

To make matters worse, there is a popular notion that college-aged boys have to be cautious or they’ll be “accused of rape.” Guys that I value and respect have said to me, “It really sucks, any girl can just say you raped them.” From the top down, we are hearing this. Our commander in chief himself said that it is a “difficult” and “scary” time for young men in the U.S.

Maybe if drunken hookups weren’t so normalized and date rape wasn’t so common, men wouldn’t be scared. Maybe if a member of the highest court wasn’t an accused predator, I wouldn’t have to watch out for half-naked men on acid.

These occurrences and the current political climate have encouraged me to reflect on myself and the ways that I personally interact with and perpetuate this problematic sex-and-substance culture. If this has happened to you, just remember, you’re not alone. Plus, the majority of people are eager to end this shit.

And to perpetrators: instead of being afraid, just grow up and don’t have sex with drunk people.

2019: the year of sober sex. It’s about time.

Goddess Horny is a student at Cornell University. Her column, Sex in the Stacks, runs monthly.